AFGHANISTAN (NNS) -- The secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) concluded a seven-day, six-country trip Dec. 22 that included Malta, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Algeria.
SECNAV Ray Mabus began his trip with a stop in Valletta, Malta.
During his stay, Mabus visited with Malta's Chief of Defense Brigadier General Martin Xuereb. Mabus expressed appreciation for Malta being the regional leader in search and rescue.
"The U.S. Navy is looking forward to expanding our relationship with Malta," said Mabus. "I have heard excellent reports about your Search and Rescue Training Center. I am confident you will be just as successful in transforming it into a larger Maritime Safety and Security Training Center."
Following his time in Malta, Mabus traveled to Afghanistan to spend a day touring forward operating bases and visiting with deployed Sailors and Marines. Mabus took a walking tour of Marjah with Marines assigned to 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines and 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines after which he expressed his gratitude for their service and sacrifice.
"I came here today to personally thank you for your service to your nation. You're the best led, the best trained and you are making a difference," said Mabus, to Marines during an all hands call. "Six months ago, no one would have imagined walking down the streets of Marjah without fighting, but today because of what you've done in Marjah, it's safer and the people of Marjah can return to their lives."
During his time in Afghanistan, Mabus also visited with the district governors in Sangin and Nawa. The governor of Nawa informed Mabus that Marines are turning over large portions of security in the town to the Afghan security force, and expressed his thanks to Mabus for the training the local forces have received.
Saudi Arabia was the next stop on the tour. Mabus spent time there meeting with senior military leaders including Vice Adm. Wagdani, commander, Royal Saudi Naval Forces. During his visit with Wagdani, Mabus expressed his appreciation for the long standing relationship between the two nation's naval forces.
"We've had a special relationship with Saudi Arabia for over 50 years, and I look forward to furthering this relationship as secretary of the Navy," said Mabus.
Mabus also thanked the Saudi commander for the Royal Saudi navy's counter-piracy support.
Concluding his visit to Saudi Arabia, Mabus made a two-day visit to Israel. Mabus' first day consisted of office calls with Israel's Chief of Naval Operation Eliezer Marum and Minister of Defense Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv.
On Mabus' second day in Israel, he had an office call with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He spoke about naval cooperation between Israel and the United States.
"As we continue to explore ways we can broaden our interaction and increase joint capability, I would personally welcome any ideas you may have on new ways our navies can work together," said Mabus.
Mabus concluded his trip with a visit to Algeria. During his stay there, he met with Minister Delegate Abdelmalek Guenaizia and Commander, Naval Forces General-Major Malek Necib. Mabus expressed the importance of Algeria's contribution to the region's security.
"The leading role your country has taken against extremism in the region is commendable," said Mabus. "Combating terrorism is an important objective for both our countries. I appreciate your involvement in the Exercise Phoenix Express and look forward to conducting more joint activities. We stand ready to continue working with you and expanding our partnership."
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